What Will You Change: A Tasty Endeavor
June 23, 2010
By Tim Candon — This article was originally published in the Team Fuqua alumni magazine.
Food and travel were always Lisa Mogensen’s hobbies. Now, they’re her life.
For nearly 20 years, Mogensen (Trinity ’85, Daytime MBA ’87) worked in the finance world, including holding two Chief Financial Officer positions for TheStreet.com and Forbes Digital, respectively. During her time off, she enjoyed exploring culinary hot spots in places like Las Vegas and the Bahamas. But she was frustrated by the dearth of information about the places she was visiting. Sure, there was a paragraph or two about the food, but nothing about the popular restaurants’ space, atmosphere or chef.
So TravelsinTaste.com was born.
Mogensen founded the website in November 2007 with hopes of providing a comprehensive overview of fine restaurants to help locals and tourists make more informed dining decisions. Currently, about 150 restaurants are highlighted on the site in 8 US locations—Beverly Hills, CA; Chicago, IL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Las Vegas, NV; New York, NY; Santa Monica, CA; South Beach, FL; and the Hamptons, NY.
“It’s really grown,” Mogensen says. “The site started off as advertiser supported, but now we have sponsors and we’re booking reservations. We’ve gotten incredibly positive feedback from everyone—restaurateurs, chefs, advertisers, and readers.”
Though she loves food and dining, Mogensen has made it clear that she is not a food critic.
“We’re information mavens,” her site reads. “We love food. We therefore want to provide you, the diner, with the most comprehensive and objective information on the web about the world’s most talked-about dining experiences so that you can make your own informed decisions about what’s bad, what’s good, and what’s great.”
Mogensen likens her experience with the website to one she had years ago while a Duke undergraduate. She ran the Business Endeavors Association—a group for undergraduates interested in business school. She helped the group thrive, and the experience was so rewarding that she longed for another one like it. Her wish is finally being fulfilled through creating her website.
“I have an editor, a programmer, and me. I’ve accomplished a great deal,” Mogensen says. “Being one person, and being where we’re at in terms of audience and being well received, I’m very thrilled with that.”
But TravelsinTaste.com has become so well received that it has reached a critical mass.
“If I’m going to do this myself, the business can’t scale as quickly. I’m looking for seasoned professionals to deal with sponsorships and ads and newsletters, some content writers and photographers to expand in Las Vegas and New York and break out into Washington, D.C. and the Bay Area. That’s the next level and that’s why we’re looking for venture capital, too. We’ve had some very positive meetings, but we’re looking for that right group that will partner with us and allow us to bring each other value.”